Fennell to receive lifetime achievement award

April 12, 2012

Education professor Francis “Skip” Fennell who developed the first graduate program for elementary mathematics teachers in Maryland will receive a lifetime achievement award from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics at its annual meeting April 26 in Philadelphia.

Fennell has dedicated his professional life since 1966 to mathematics education, with an emphasis on the elementary and middle grades. From 2006-2008, Fennell served as president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the world’s largest and most influential mathematics education organization, and he is a founding member of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE).

NCTM cited Fennell’s impact on elementary mathematics specialists regionally and nationally, especially his work with the Brookhill Foundation’s Elementary Mathematics Specialists and Teacher Leaders Project. In March, Brookhill awarded a $375,000 grant to Fennell to renew his research studies that provide teaching models to mathematics professionals worldwide. This is the second grant Brookhill awarded to Fennell, with a $400,000 grant made in 2009.

Fennell spent the first decade of his career as an elementary teacher and principal. In 1976 he joined the faculty at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), where he has taught and influenced thousands of budding educators in the years since. In 2010, the College trustees recognized him as the first recipient to hold the newly created endowed chair, L. Stanley Bowlsbey Professor of Education and Graduate and Professional Studies, so named in memory of the College’s graduate dean and alumnus who served as Fennell’s mentor.

Early in his tenure as NCTM president, Fennell shepherded NCTM’s influential “Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics: A Quest for Coherence” through its final stages. This groundbreaking publication “gave NCTM the means to shape larger policy decisions…,” says one nominator. “His extraordinary blend of authority, reasonableness, collegiality, and leadership has not only served NCTM well, but it has altered the broader education landscape in a manner perhaps never before achieved by the voice of mathematics education.”

Honors already bestowed on Fennell include the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Mathematics Educator of the Year (1990), Western Maryland College’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1997), Carnegie Foundation’s CASE Professor of the Year—Maryland (1997), the NCSM Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award (2000), and AMTE Excellence in Service in Mathematics Teacher Education (2010). Fennell was a writer for Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, Curriculum Focal Points, and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. He’s also the author of dozens of articles and books and is the coauthor of three books coming out this year.

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